|Publication number||US4869567 A|
|Application number||US 07/093,528|
|Publication date||Sep 26, 1989|
|Filing date||Dec 29, 1986|
|Priority date||Dec 30, 1985|
|Also published as||CA1273515A, CA1273515A1, DE3677188D1, EP0234127A1, EP0234127B1, EP0234128A1, WO1987004260A1, WO1987004261A1|
|Publication number||07093528, 093528, PCT/1986/802, PCT/GB/1986/000802, PCT/GB/1986/00802, PCT/GB/86/000802, PCT/GB/86/00802, PCT/GB1986/000802, PCT/GB1986/00802, PCT/GB1986000802, PCT/GB198600802, PCT/GB86/000802, PCT/GB86/00802, PCT/GB86000802, PCT/GB8600802, US 4869567 A, US 4869567A, US-A-4869567, US4869567 A, US4869567A|
|Inventors||Colin A. Millar, Stephen R. Mallinson, Michael C. Brierley|
|Original Assignee||British Telecommunications Public Limited Company|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (15), Non-Patent Citations (10), Referenced by (21), Classifications (25), Legal Events (4)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This invention relates to coupler devices, and in particular to optical coupler devices.
According to the present invention, a frequency selective optical coupler device comprises a waveguide underlying a first layer of material which has a refractive index higher than the effective refractive index of the waveguide and which forms a planar waveguide capable of supporting and guiding at least one propagation mode of a higher order than, but matching the phase velocity of, the propagation mode or modes in the underlying waveguide.
The first layer may be overlayed by a further layer forming a non-guiding substrate having a substantially planar surface and a refractive index which is lower than the effective refractive index of the first layer for a given mode of propagation.
The first layer and/or the substrate may be uniform or non-uniform in comparison, and preferably of uniform refractive index.
The first layer and substrate are preferably in intimate contact, but may instead be spaced a small distance apart, for example byy one or more intervening layers, or an air gap. The waveguide and the first layer are also preferably spaced a small distance apart, but may be in intimate contact. For effective coupling, close proximity of the waveguide and first layer is required for strong field coupling, providing a degree of lateral confinement of the field in the first layer.
The waveguide conveniently comprises an optical fibre, and preferably an optical single mode fibre.
In another form of the invention, the waveguide may comprise a waveguide associated with, or forming part of, an integrated optics device.
The first layer and/or the substrate may be provided with means, such as electrodes, for example, to modify the optical properties of the associated layer, thereby to permit control of the operation of the coupler device.
Coupler devices according to the invention may be used to form optical modulators, filters, and other devices operating on an optical signal at distinct positions along the length of an optical fibre, preferably a single mode fibre.
An important aspect of the present invention is that the index of the planar waveguide may be appreciably greater than the effective index of the waveguide, that is to say, in the case where the waveguide is a fibre, and the planar waveguide a film for example, that
nfilm greater than nefibre, provided that
nefilm is approximately equal to nefibre
The refractive index (n) of a material is understood herein to be the bulk refractive index of the material as determined bymeans of an Abbe refractometer, for example. The effective refractive index (ne) is the ratio of the speed of light in vacuo (c) to the phase velocity (vp) of the guided mode concerned.
The refractive index of the first layer is conveniently at least 1°/o to 10°/o, and preferably at least 15°/o to 20°/o, greater than the effective refractive index of the waveguide. However, it has been calculated that efficient coupling will be obtained even in cases where the refractive index of the first layer is 60°/o higher than the effective refractive index of the waveguide.
The present invention will now be described further by way of examples and with reference to the accompanying drawings, of which:
FIG. 1 is a schematic sectional view through a channel dropping optical filter device according to the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a mode dispersion diagram;
FIG. 3 is a graph showing transmission vs wavelength for the half-coupler of the device of FIG. 1 with a thin overlay film;
FIG. 4 shows the output of a device with a thicker overlay;
FIGS. 5A and 5B illustrate the effects of a solid wave guide overlay.
Referring first to FIG. 1 of the drawings, an optical channel dropping filter or coupler in accordance with the present invention comprises a polished optical fibre half-coupler 1 incorporating an optical single mode fibre wave guide, 11 and underlying a first layer formed by a thin film 2. A substrate in the form of a fused silica slide 3 is mounted on top of the film 2. This serves to form a boundary for the film, as it has lower refractive index and reduces radiative loss from the film. The exposed fibre length was approximately 520 μm, which is close to the coupling length allowing good coupling into the overlay. Also, close proximity of fibre and overlay ensured good coupling. Optical fibre half-couplers of this type are described, for example, by B. Nayar, "Int Optics", Eds. Nolting and Ulrich, Springer Series in Opt. Sc., Vol. 48, Springer Verlag 1985. The construction of the polished half-couplers as such is not of the essence of the present invention and hence need not be discussed here in detail. For the present purposes it is sufficient to note that the fibre 11 was standard British Telecom Type "B" single mode fibre, that the radius of the fibre curvature in the half-coupler was 25 cm, and that the cladding of the fibre 11 was removed by polishing to within 1 μm of the fibre core 12.
Optical fibres such as those used in the fabrication of the half-couplers have an effective refractive index of approximately 1.45 at a wavelength of nominally 1.5 μm.
The thin film overlay 2 is a thin overlay of proprietary refractive index liquid, eg as supplied by Cargille Inc. of 55 Cedar Grove, N.J., USA. In this example, a methyl salicylate film was used, having a refractive index of about 1.52. The thickness of the film used was approximately 39 μm, although a wide range of thicknesses would be suitable (eg 1-200 μm).
FIG. 2 is a mode dispersion diagram showing the variation in propagation constant β, where β=kne, with normalised thickness 2πt/λ where t is the thickness of the overlay. For all the materials of the device, the variation in the material dispersion (ie the variation of the index of the material with wavelength) has been ignored.
As can be seen from the graph, kne fibre for the fibre 11 and knsilica for the silica slide 3 remain approximately constant over a large wavelength region. For the fibre 11, propagation takes place in a single mode only, the fundamental (m=o). Propagation in the thin film overlay 2 takes place in a series of mode orders below the cut-off value m=n through a range n+1 . . . n+9 etc. as shown on the graph.
Channels of a transmitted wave length multiplexed optical signal are coupled to the thin film overlay 2 only when the β lines on the dispersion diagram cross (FIG. 2) ie where there is an intersection between the β line for the fibre 11 and the β line for a given mode of the overlay 2. Since each film mode propagates at different wavelengths for a constant optical thickness, the coupled channels occur at approximately equal wavelength intervals. The interaction length between fibre and overlay is selected so as to permit only one traverse of the coupler (or any odd number traverses), thereby causing coupling of channels into of the overlay. The remainder of the light appears at the output port of the half-coupler (much against intuitive expectations). In this state the phase velocity mismatch ensures low insertion loss, and, conversely, when coupled, the matching of the phase velocity and correct coupling length give a high rejection ratio. (The rejection ratio is the ratio between the intensity of light in the fibre in the coupled and uncoupled states). There are thickness conditions for overlay films of all index values greater than ne which the light in the fibre will ignore or couple to, depending on the design. This aspect has implications not only for the devices but for the construction and use of polished directional couplers with thin matching layers interposed between them.
There is strong coupling from the single mode fibre 11 to the film 2, producing a degree of three dimensional wave confinement in the film. This helps reduce optical loss through non-axial leakage of radiation from the film.
The examples below illustrate the results which can be achieved using a variety of overlays. With thin overlays (eg 1 to 5 μm) there are only a few modes or a single mode in the overlay to couple to. An example using the device of FIG. 1, but with a thinner film is shown in FIG. 3. There was no deliberate gap between the half-coupler and overlay (so that the actual gap was about 1 μm). A thin film mode coupled to the fibre mode (the fundamental) at about 900 nm so light transferred at this wavelength from fibre to film. Increasing the pressure decreased the film thickness which shifted the rejected band to about 775 nm. Since (See P. K. Tein, Applied optics Vol 10, PP 2395-2413, 1971):
2π(n2 film-ne2 fibre)1/2 t/λ≈mρ
where t is the thickness of the film and m the mode order, then in order to couple into a particular mode, t/λ must be constant for given refractive indices. If t decreases then so must the coupling wavelength, in agreement with the observation. Note that the excess loss when the channel is not being dropped is negligible.
The coupling properties of the device may be varied by, for example, altering the thickness of the overlay. A thin elastic film whose thickness is changed piezoelectrically can operate to provide devices such as, for example, tunable channel dropping filters, variable attenuators (note also that one band could be attenuated whilst not another), pressure/displacement sensors, on/off switches, sonic-optical transducers (microphones) and so on.
FIG. 4 illustrates the output of fibre in a thick film device. Table 1 summarizes the results obtained from experiments with devices with films of different thickness. The results show that a comb filter with about 12 nm dropped channel separation can easily be made. It is remarkable that at such large thickness, modes still exist in the overlay and that they interact so effectively with the fibre mode. There is no reason why narrower comb responses could not be achieved, by increasing the thickness and film index, although it should be noted that as the thickness increases, difficulty in obtaining parallelism results in increased loss. Non-planar overlays are generally to be avoided.
A comb filter may be provided where the width of the coupled channel is several nm (eg 5) and the channel separation is typically 10 nm, with greater than 20 dB rejection ratio and negligible insertion loss (say 0.5 dB).
With thick overlays the fibre mode (m=o for monomode fibre) couples to a higher order mode in the overlying film close to the cut-off value (m=n in FIG. 2). This mode can propagate long distances without degradation. As can be seen in FIG. 4 the spectral separation of the dropped channels is large, and the width of these channels is also large. In fact, coupling to higher order modes in the overlying films allows great flexibility in the choice of refractive index and thickness, and there is no requirement for close tolerances, since all that is generally needed is at least one mode in the overlay which is phase velocity matched to mode(s) in the fibre. A wide range of materials and thicknesses are suitable for the overlay. The order of the propagation mode in the overlay may vary from 1 to about 200, depending on which mode or modes match the phase velocity of a mode in the fibre.
Changing the index of the overlay can tune the filter appropriately. This could be done by having an electro-optic material mechanically sliced and polished and sandwiched between the coupler and the silica block. At a fixed wavelength slight phase velocity changes may induce large attenuation changes.
In FIG. 5A a thin wave guide on silica 16 was used as the overlay with no spacer. Strongly coupling into the film was observed at two well-defined wavelengths (see FIG. 5B), demonstrating that the technique can be used to couple into integrated optic wave guides. This is particularly significant because it indicates that directional coupling between standard fibres and planar wave guides is possible.
Note that, if desired, the overlay may take the form of a rectangular waveguide.
In summary, the most important finding of this work is that the range of indices (and therefore materials) available to directionally couple into from silica fibre half couplers is
There is no upper limit on nfilm. The ability of the coupling to be independent of material index widens the range of material options and functions which are available. Indeed efficient coupling does not depend on film mode order, and therefore thick or thin films are equally important--the fabrication techniques are extensive and device possibilities quite vast.
For subject matter related to the present invention, the reader is referred to a co-pending patent application "Optical Coupler Devices" of even date, in the name of the present applicants and claiming priority from UK patent application Nos. 8531869 and 8531870 filed on 30th Dec. 1985 and corresponding to U.S. patent application Ser. No. 07/095,575, filed 21 Aug. 1987, now allowed; the contents of that application is incorporated herein by reference.
TABLE 1______________________________________Channel Dropping Filter:Table of resultsWavelength region 1.38 μmOverlay index 1.49 (nD)Overlay Coupled Channel Rejection ExcessThickness channel Separation Ratio Loss Modes______________________________________86 μm 7 nm 12 nm 26 dB 3 dB 103/10413 μm 28 nm 80 nm 19 dB 0.3 dB 15/164.2 μm 40 nm 253 nm 18 dB 0 dB 5/6______________________________________
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|1||Applied Physics Letters, vol. 28, No. 4, Feb. 15, 1976, American Institute of Physics, (US), J. M. Hammer et al.: "Optical grating coupling between low index fibers and high-index film waveguides", pp. 192-194, see paragraphs 1-6, FIG. 1.|
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|US7155089 *||Jul 19, 2005||Dec 26, 2006||National Chiao Tung University||Wide-band fiber-optic tunable filter|
|US7272280||Dec 16, 2004||Sep 18, 2007||Honeywell International Inc.||Optical coupler for measuring wavelength|
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|US20060133734 *||Dec 16, 2004||Jun 22, 2006||Honeywell International Inc.||Optical coupler for measuring wavelength|
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|U.S. Classification||385/27, 385/49|
|International Classification||G02B6/28, G02F1/1333, G02F1/01, G02B6/34, G02F1/313, G02B6/14, G02B6/30|
|Cooperative Classification||G02F1/0118, G02B6/29332, G02F1/3131, G02B6/14, G02F1/3132, G02B6/2826, G02F1/1326, G02B6/30|
|European Classification||G02F1/13W, G02F1/01C5C, G02F1/313B, G02B6/28B6B, G02F1/313C, G02B6/14, G02B6/30, G02B6/293E2|
|Aug 21, 1987||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: BRITISH TELECOMMUNICATIONS, 81 NEWGATE STREET, LON
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST.;ASSIGNORS:MILLAR, COLIN A.;MALLINSON, STEPHEN R.;BRIERLEY, MICHAEL C.;REEL/FRAME:004792/0137
Effective date: 19870714
Owner name: BRITISH TELECOMMUNICATIONS, 81 NEWGATE STREET, LON
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:MILLAR, COLIN A.;MALLINSON, STEPHEN R.;BRIERLEY, MICHAELC.;REEL/FRAME:004792/0137
Effective date: 19870714
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